Man charged with setting home on fire, then hitting arriving deputy and firefighter

The suspect set the fire after an argument with a family member, according to his arrest report.

  • By
  • | 6:00 a.m. February 26, 2022
Photo courtesy of the city pf Palm Coast
Photo courtesy of the city pf Palm Coast
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • News
  • Share

A 48-year-old Palm Coast man is being held without bond at the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility for starting a house fire after a family fight and then hitting an arriving Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy and Palm Coast firefighter with his cane.

“Taking a swing at one of our deputies or a firefighter who was trying to help was a big mistake.”


— RICK STALY, Flagler County sheriff

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, Flagler County Fire Rescue and Palm Coast Fire Department responded just before 10 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 24, to a house fire on Blyth Place in Palm Coast. A fire in the back of the home forced John and Sue Beale, as well as Mark McKerlie, to evacuate to the front yard. An FCSO deputy then instructed them to move to the street, away from the burning home. 

Moments later, the deputy went to the back of a fire engine on the scene to check on McKerlie. There he found McKerlie sitting on the truck’s tailgate. McKerlie repeatedly poked his cane at firefighters, laughing as he hit one in the armpit, then swung his cane at the deputy, striking him in the head. The deputy quickly took the cane and restrained McKerlie. 

Investigators determined that McKerlie had actually started the fire by igniting a mattress. McKerlie told authorities that it all stemmed from an altercation with family members earlier in the evening. He had been undergoing narcotics withdrawal, according to his arrest report, and had argued with a family member who'd thrown away his old prescription medicine.

With smoke billowing out the front door, firefighters were able to quickly contain the flames to the rear of the home. 

“Taking a swing at one of our deputies or a firefighter who was trying to help was a big mistake,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Thankfully, my deputy and the firefighter did not suffer any major injuries. This arsonist will now sit in the Green Roof Inn and be held responsible for his actions.”

McKerlie faces two counts of Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer/Firefighter and one count of Arson. 

Watch video from the scene at


Latest News


Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning local news.